Sidecountry, once the hidden province of rope duckers and surreptitious gladers, has become some of the most vaunted terrain at ski areas. Vermont has plenty of it, be it the trails Mt. Mansfield’s early pioneers built, such as the Bruce, or the massive Slide Brook Basin area at Sugarbush. But in the past year, no resort has capitalized on its “out-of-bounds” terrain as much as Bolton Valley.
With two backcountry huts (Bryant Cabin and Bolton Lodge) and miles of glades and backcountry on both sides of the mountain, Bolton Valley Ski Resort has become a powder trove for locals. Now, with the DesLauriers family once again owning the resort, backcountry plays a bigger role than ever. This year Bolton offered backcountry clinics, hosted rentals and held skimo races. It even ran a bus to Stowe so that those who wanted to do the Catamount Trail traverse to the Trapp Family Lodge trails, or only as far as Nebraska Valley, could shuttle back.
While runners-up Jay Peak and Smuggler’s Notch may access plenty of steep and deep terrain, Bolton won out for our readers. 1. Bolton Valley 2. Jay Peak 3. Smuggler’s Notch.